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When Applebee's opened it's door for business , as a Founder, owner, and working partner, TJ Palmer always wanted "to make customers feel that Applebee's was their special place" and that they felt good about being there. She adds:" It's always nice to walk in a cozy little atmosphere and feel wanted. Today, these places are very hard to find." After walking in the door or being seated, every customer was spoken to by either TJ or Bill (her past husband and partner) those first six months on Memorial Drive in Decatur, Georgia. Even during or after a meal, you could always see smiling faces as the owners walked to your table to make sure that your experience measured up to your expectations. TJ and Bill did not just stand around. You could catch them running food, busing tables, and keeping their place clean. Bill could even be cooking in the kitchen. TJ could be back there too, shucking oysters or washing dishes. " I was even taught how to make drinks by Vicki, our day bartender. I enjoyed working behind the bar and especially the people at the bar. It was a great time in my life. I loved being out around the people just as I was as a flight attendant with Delta. Everything was personable".
Two of the Founder's: TJ Palmer and Bill Palmer at the Buford highway opening
Back when I was married, we started out with nothing. We both had jobs after college and we each had a car. That was about it. After working for Delta, I knew I could never work for another company. Delta gave you much freedom. Every time you stepped on a plane, you were on your own. You rarely worked with the same people twice. You also had a uniform so you didn't have to worry about clothes. I knew I would never find another job that paid that well in the 70's. It was like being a server. You had your own little company inside another. If you didn't give people what they wanted, you had no customers and you received small tips. For Bill, I think after he learned the ropes with fast food, he couldn't work for anyone else either. It's hard to see the sales come in that you made happen but not get a portion of it after dedicating your life to that company. If you don't have the money to go out on your own, you begin to hate your job. Lucky for us that the Small Business association existed and that's where we went for money.
A little Nostalgia:
We were members of the "Boomer" generation and our ideas were catering to our age group. We were young; some of us single, others beginning families. We were partiers and parents raising our young. There was a special generation that we appealed to: the 20 to 40 year age group. A lot has changed over the years: good and bad. Applebee's has lost much of it's originality. No one will deny that. It's not that meeting place; the quaint little restaurant that it started out to be. Now we are older and many of our generation feel that Applebee's hasn't grown old with us. We out grew Applebee's. Things that once appealed to us while young are no longer grabbing our attention. Our styles, our tastes, our beliefs, our activities, our music, our ambitions have all changed. Some of you "Boomers" would like to see your high school pictures of years ago back up on the walls with your generations cars and stars and all that remember when stuff. The winning Atlanta Braves, your favorite TV show paraphernalia; Not quiet like Happy Days but somewhere in between Vietnam and Desert Storm. Could Applebee's become the swinging single generation of the 50 to 70 age group? The place where once again you can meet up with single friends, make new friends and start your second or third journey through life. Could Applebee's be a place for casual conversation, away from the grand kids at night but a place to bring your grand kids to on Saturday and Sunday for lunch before a movie or game? What can be done now to make Applebee's your place again?
When TJ Applebee's Edibles and Elixirs was a family owned and operated business, it was an Atlanta concept. Our first Corporate Office was in Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia in our home. I call it a home but it was actually just a work place with no other real meaning. Now, known as just "Applebee's", its beginning was the joint effort of a husband and wife to achieve the mutual goal of success in everything we attempted. I believed with all my heart that we were a team. I thought we were both equally driven, at a young age, to be successful with our restaurant concept and each other. I wanted to be a part of our journey and support my life partner in what ever he decided to do in our life. To be successful is a great sacrifice, missing out on family life; things that you will never have a chance to experience again. A lot of people get left behind. Holidays are meaningless; just another day. The extended family, relatives, and friends just don't exist. You just don't have enough time in your life to give them any of your time. Only you can decide if it's worth it all and just accept the direction that you decide to take. One day you wake up and you see that it's too late to change what you left behind. No matter what your goal was, after getting there, you see that the only thing that has meaning in life is relationships. Family should always come first. You don't need the most toys, the expensive cars, the club memberships, the giant house, the expensive schools for your kids to impress your friends. Your families happiness is always the most important aspect of life. Being there. Births, deaths, sickness, old age, bad times, good times, relying one each other. These things will mean more to you than any type employment you will ever have. Family, Blood relatives.
The beginning of a book, this is my story. It will be honest, open, and candid. It is filled with personal feelings and memories. Some aspects are taken from the journals that I have always kept, a writing habit that I have had since I was thirteen years of age. I believe my journals began with the loss of my first pet. We all know that feeling. If you don't, you must not be an animal person. If not, you have missed out. This has led to writing about other loves and losses that I lived through. Don't be surprised by what you read. It's a work in progress and I don't know if it will ever be finished. In psychology, you are taught that writing releases many anxieties and stresses from your life. As a psychologist, I write continuously.
Well, Let's turn the clocks back and look at the beginnings of a restaurant concept known today as a giant Corporation; Back when we "boomers" were Booming!
Below is one of the many stained glass murals that we had on display in each location. This depicts the hot air balloons that my partner wished to use in our decor theme. At our second store opening, we had an air balloon tethered outside the restaurant and offered rides a small distance straight up and back down. It was a lot of fun for both children and adults. It also attracted attention to let the world know we were now open.
This is a creation of Dana McCurley, the daughter of another founder, Bob McCurley. She worked for her fathers design company, Davis Designs. She made stain glass pieces for each store with each one being slightly different. The first original piece hangs in my then partner's office. Back when I was married, I was given one that was hung in my accounting office. I wasn't allowed to remove it before our divorce so I'm sure I will never see it again. Dana also made the stain glass pieces that hung over each bar that said "Applebee's" in the center and "Edibles" and "Elixirs" each end. She is great at designing and creating.
So on with the story. The next few pages will explain how we go started and why. Since this web site has been up (1999), it has been attacked a few times. Many of the pictures have been wiped off and also our first loan document. I plan to have all back up and in working order soon. A problem has cropped up that needs to be addressed so I am revisiting my site today, June 30, 2007 which just so happens to be my Wedding date of old. What a coincidence!
JUST A NOTE: I have also been accused of "Biting the hand that feeds". Let me be clear. I am in no way associated with Applebee's today. In 1999, a settlement agreement was signed with all my ownership being extended to my then partner. As with all agreements, my ownership acts as collateral until payment is received. My partner requested that our agreement be sealed, which it was. He broke this agreement himself by going back to his office, having his secretary type out a memo disclosing the payment amount and duration of payments, and giving this information to accounting personnel. Our divorce was clearly a personal matter but my then partner decided, during and after our divorce, to make it a company matter. I made it a point never to put my employees into our personal legal issues. I made sure that it was clearly understood that all employees were to co operate with Mr Palmer under any circumstances. I made sure that he was given the respect of a corporate officer and owner during our issues no matter what was relayed, conveyed, sent, said, or done to our office to disrupt our responsibilities to the company. I tried to continue doing my best to keep the working company blemish free as I continued to be a company representative. Money was never taken from any joint owned or sole owned company to start a new company or business with a sole ownership for my benefit.
|Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved.|